Natural materials are an important and inspiring topic and the use of natural materials is always high up on our customer’s list. It’s something we are all made more aware of each year and it’s becoming an important part of our decision making when buying new items for the home. At Peter Hall & Son we constantly strive to reduce the impact on our landscape and to support local businesses who share a similar ethos.
We are very fortunate to have our workshop in the heart of the Lake District. Not only is it our main source for design inspiration but also for sourcing natural materials. The land in the Lake District is rich in minerals, diverse geology and woodland. For centuries, the management of the Lake District woodlands has been sustainable through methods such as coppicing. We make it our priority to use local and sustainably sourced wood and to keep the processing and travel distance to a minimum before it arrives in our workshop.
“High Fell Green Slate Company Quarry is amazingly just a father and son team”
Another local natural resource we have been using is slate. For centuries, slate has been quarried in the Lake District. It is recognised as an integral and defining part of our cultural landscape and industrial background. Mineral extraction in the Lakes is now mainly concentrated on slate and is quarried by highly skilled manual workers.
Slate is a metamorphic rock altered from shale or mudstone under immense heat pressure. The colour of slate is grey but blues, greens and white can be found in it. This is influenced by the quantity or type of iron and organic material that are present in the rock.
High Fell Green Slate Company Quarry is amazingly just a father and son team who operate the quarrying of Lake District green slate in Tilberthwaite, near Coniston. Like us, they are also seeing the third generation of their family working in the business. They are one of the last remaining, independent slate quarries in Cumbria so we visited recently to share with you their story.
“During our climb, we couldn’t help take some pictures of the amazing view.”
To get there we drove over to the quarry on eerily empty roads during the lockdown on a Friday afternoon in the rain. Parked up in the car park at Tilberthwaite and walked up an off-road track that climbs steeply up the side of the fell. During our climb, we couldn’t help take some pictures of the amazing view.
After a mile of uphill walking, we arrived at a small group of open sheds with two men sawing a huge block of stone. The atmosphere of the place was palpable. A place that the modern world hasn’t touched, which is steeped in a feeling of awe-inspiring tradition. Two men in one of the open sheds were silently working away with 100-year-old equipment.
Everything is grey in varying textures. The floors and walls are plastered in slate dust. Water was spraying out the back and pouring out the front. The methodical cutting of grooves is slow and considered. Each time the saw is brought back through the stone, deeper trenches are cut through the rock guided on what looks like an old carriage platform with a large winding handle.
The whole experience is involved and isolated. The rest of the world seems to not touch this place and there is something simple and satisfying about that.
This piece of stone will take two days to cut through.
Stepping out of the shed you can see piles of Lake District green slate all down the fell with a vast view across the Langdale Pikes and down into the valley.
They tell us that they never take the location and views for granted and they feel apart of the landscape.
We then travelled to the quarry and looked about at the imposing landscape. We were amazed at the level of stone that has been cut and hauled out of the quarry, up a 45-degree hill and into their workshop. They are indisputably a hard-working team of two but also extremely friendly and personable. We have loved working with them over the years and will continue shouting their praises.
We have been using slate from High Fell for many years for some of our tabletop designs. Our latest project is using High Fell Green Slate for our Slate Top Lamp Tables. Each Slate Top Lamp Table is crafted by hand in our workshop. An understated and contemporary design, which showcases the slate top beautifully. We begin by creating a frame of slim legs and straight rails. The tabletop is bevelled around the slate which sits slightly proud to create a snug fit. The advantage of having the slate fit into the frame like this is to prevent small gaps where crumbs and other detritus can get trapped. We are all about small details that make a big difference! Finally, the slate is treated with a protective finish, which helps prevent marking.
Here is an image of our Cabinet Maker, Oliver, hand carving the Peter Hall symbol of quality into the rails of the Slate Top Lamp Table.
Why have a slate topped table? There are many benefits to using slate.
- It is 100% natural and has the durability to last over a hundred years making it perfect for furniture that will last for generations.
- It is extremely eco-friendly. High Fell Green Slate Company use a simple and efficient production process, which means it has a minimal environmental impact
- In particular, the slate from this quarry is strikingly beautiful. It has a unique green colour, which is synonymous with slate in the Lake District. However, the slate from High Fell has a marbled texture which is unique to the slate from High Fell
As a small furniture business that practices traditional cabinet making skills by hand, we only ever produce items in very small batches. Each piece is crafted with passion and pride. Every day, we enjoy being able to use natural materials and turn them into beautiful furniture of exceptional quality in both its design and hand-made manufacturing
The use of precious Lake District green slate exalts it to a taxonomy of luxury tables. It encompasses a story of family, support, love for our natural world, mastery of craft and considered design.
Available to order